Washington – Former Washington-based commissioner Pedro Pierluisi believes that if former Vice President Joseph Biden is elected President of the United States and the Senate changes to Democratic hands, they will improve opportunities to advance statehood for Puerto Rico .
Both President Donald Trump and the Republican Majority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell  (Kentucky) – who is also going to be reelected in November-, have emphatically ruled out giving way to a statehood project for Puerto Rico or Washington DC since they are convinced that both jurisdictions would send Democrats to the US Senate.  " If everything goes as I hope, in the House (the Democrats will continue to be in control and) we will have strong support for statehood. In the Senate, that depends on what happens in the elections, "said Pierluisi, who aspires to obtain, on August 9, the candidacy for governor by the New Progressive Party (PNP).
The former commissioner pointed to the benefit to a PNP government that Democrat Amy McGrath newly elected candidate for her party, beat McConnell in November in Kentucky. " If we don't have Mitch McConnell in the picture, that will be beneficial for statehood. Likewise, if Democrats take control of the Senate, "Pierluisi said.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Florida) has insisted that there is no environment in the Senate for a proposal of statehood for Puerto Rico. A defeat for McConnell would not change that reality in one fell swoop, but would remove a powerful political enemy from the statesmen.
McConnell, who controls a majority of 53-47, has indicated that he wants to continue as leader of the Senate Republicans even in the minority.
Although Biden has indicated as a presidential candidate that he will work with representatives of all status alternatives in Puerto Rico to promote a process of self-determination, Pierluisi said that the former vice president, on a personal level, supports the idea of the island being a state . Biden, as a presidential candidate, has embraced the proposal that Washington D.C. be state 51.
Despite the blockade of the republican leadership to statehood, Pierluisi does not believe that in general support in Congress has decreased, and pointed out that historically many more Democrats are in solidarity with this alternative of status.
In its last session in Congress, Pierluisi's 2015 pro-statehood bill garnered 110 co-sponsors in the lower house, 96 of them Democrats. By then, the PNP was already claiming that statehood won the 2012 plebiscite.
The most recent pro-state legislation of the Democrat José Serrano (New York) and the commissioner Jenniffer González has 59 co-sponsors, 41 Democrats and 18 Republicans, including the commissioner, who supports President Trump.
This measure proposes to first convert Puerto Rico into incorporated territory, which implies the payment of income taxes before achieve the political rights of statehood.
The other project of this session of Congress in favor of statehood for the island, by the Democrat Darren Soto (Florida) -which drives to turn Puerto Rico into a state in 90 days-, has 21 co-sponsors, 16 Democrats, and 5 Republicans.
The bill to convert Washington DC in state 51, passed last June 26 in the lower house, it had 228 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
The high number of Democratic co-sponsors who had their legislative proposal in favor of statehood, Pierluisi said, It also relates to the fact that he was a member of that caucus in the House.
From being the next governor and statehood to winning the November referendum, Pierluisi believes that the situation in the federal lower house will change. "In that leadership, I enjoy great credibility and being governor changes the whole panorama," he maintained.